CBD oil comes in two options: CBD isolate or full spectrum. These are both legal and safe varieties of this popular health supplement and they have different properties which mean different benefits. Read more about isolate vs full spectrum CBD to understand which might work best for you.
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate contains only CBD and none of the other cannabinoids that are found in the hemp plant.
CBD is one type of cannabinoid, amongst 113 known types. These can be split into three different classes: phytocannabinoids, which occur naturally in the hemp plant, endocannabinoids, which occur naturally in our own bodies, and synthetic cannabinoids that don’t occur naturally but are created in a lab.
Each type of cannabinoid has slightly different properties and interact in our bodies in slightly different ways. THC, for example, is another well known cannabinoid. It has very different effects to CBD and causes a person to become high due to its psychoactive properties.
CBD is a natural phytocannabinoid that is extracted from the hemp plant. When CBD is extracted, it can be isolated from all the other kinds of cannabinoids to create CBD oil that contains only CBD. This is CBD isolate.
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
On the other hand, CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant with a number of the other cannabinoids that are present. (Because hemp plants that are legally grown in the UK contain only trace amounts of THC, even full spectrum oil won’t get you high.)
This includes cannabinoids such as CBN (Cannabinol), CBG (Cannabigerol), and THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin).
This means that while CBD isolate contains only CBD, full spectrum oil contains high concentrates of CBD with smaller quantities of other cannabinoids.
Which Is Better — CBD Isolate or Full Spectrum?
There’s been some debate over whether the pure form of CBD in CBD isolate oils is better than the wider range, full spectrum CBD. To understand this more, we need to look at the benefits of other cannabinoids.
The Full Spectrum
THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) - This is produced by a tetrahydrocannabidivaric acid (THCVA) in the hemp plant. Animal studies have been completed looking into its positive effects on Parkinson’s disease and insulin sensitivity. It’s still being researched for its potential to help those suffering from type 2 diabetes. It’s also thought to promote the healthy growth of bones.
CBDV (Cannabidivarin) - This comes from cannabidivaric acid (CBVA) and is found naturally in the hemp plant. It’s being studied for its effects upon epilepsy and its anticonvulsant properties.
CBGA (Cannabigerol) - Helps to form CBD and THC, but is a chemical compound in its own right, usually found in about 1% concentrates. Animal studies have revealed that it might be helpful in supporting recovery from cancer, colitis, neurodegeneration and for promoting a healthy appetite. It’s also thought that it helps to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
CBC (Cannabichromene) - CBC binds to receptors in the body associated with pain perception, such as the vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1). It’s also thought to be helpful in reducing inflammation, promoting healthy brain function and supporting those suffering from depression (source). Researchers also think it helps CBD to work more effectively.
Benefits of Full Spectrum
Because full spectrum CBD oil contains the above components, among many other naturally occurring phytocannabinoids, it’s thought to increase the range of benefits of CBD oil. Some researchers also think that some of the cannabinoids could help CBD to work more effectively, although research into this is not conclusive.
Benefits of CBD Isolate
However, CBD is the cannabinoid that has the greatest effect on the body. This means that CBD isolate can be extremely helpful in itself.
- Be an anti-inflammatory
- Have anticonvulsant effects
- Support the immune system
- Aid recovery from depression
- Reduce anxiety
- Promote bone growth
- Manage epilepsy
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Reduce appetite
- Act as a neuroprotective agent
- Reduce vomiting and nausea
- Relieve pain
- Relieve insomnia
- Promote better stress management
Many people choose CBD isolate because CBD in itself has such a huge range of benefits. However, a lot of people prefer to opt for full spectrum CBD as this not only contains high concentrates of CBD, but also offers the combined benefits of additional phytocannabinoids.
Few studies have specifically tested the differences between CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD, but the combination of a range of studies that look at the different properties of individual cannabinoids do suggest that the CBD oil would be most beneficial with a combination of many types of cannabinoids.
One study, however, was completed which analysed CBD isolate vs full spectrum at The Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem. It used two different groups of mice and gave CBD isolate to one group and full spectrum CBD to another. The results showed the full spectrum CBD provided a greater positive effect than CBD isolate. However, more studies would need to be commenced in order to come to a definite conclusion.
CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum
While it’s thought that full spectrum CBD oil has the potential for a wider range of benefits, it doesn't mean that CBD isolate is not effective. CBD isolate contains the most important cannabinoid that is known to have the largest effect upon a person’s physical and mental health.
CBD isolate might be preferred in cases where you know that you don’t need the full spectrum of cannabinoids to support your body, for example.
As ongoing research reveals more about CBD and the other phytocannabinoids, we’ll learn more about all the benefits and have a better idea of CBD isolate vs full spectrum oils.